ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM
This paper quotes the many scriptures that speak of animal sacrifices in the millennium. But we read in Heb. 7:27, “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the peoples; for this He did once when He offered up Himself”. A similar point is made in Heb. 10. That is to say, the point of Heb. 10 was that while the law required sacrifices daily, Christ offered Himself once. Why then would there be sacrifices in the millennium?
Let us also consider a related question, i.e. why did Israel offer animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law? As we know, it is only the blood of Christ that covers the sins of believers. I believe that God had determined that Israel was to offer daily sacrifices in Old Testament times as a shadow of the one true Sacrifice.
Now let us consider Rev. 21:22 which reads, “And I saw no Temple therein (in the new Jerusalem): for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of it”. This verse speaks of Christ as “the Lamb” being in the new Jerusalem. But Christ’s sacrifice as “the Lamb of God” had been completed many centuries earlier; why does the Holy Spirit speak of Christ as the “Lamb” in the new Jerusalem? We can’t know for certain, but in my opinion, it is because God wanted to remind everyone in the new Jerusalem of Christ’s Sacrifice.
Although I cannot prove from Scripture why sacrifices will be made in the millennium, I believe that sacrifices will be offered in the millennium as a memorial of Christ’s one true Sacrifice. That is to say, just as we read of the “Lamb”, i.e. Christ’s title as the Sacrifice of God, in the description of the new earth as a reminder/memorial of that Sacrifice, so too the animal sacrifices in the millennium will be a memorial of that Sacrifice.
In short, while we may not understand why there will be animal sacrifices in the millennium, it will be proved below that there will indeed be sacrifices in the millennium. God’s ways are not our ways.
Millennial Prophecies in the Book of Isaiah
We read in Is. 56:6-8, “Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of My covenant; even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar; for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord Which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, ‘Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him’”.
To what time period does this passage refer? I believe the clue is found in the phrase, “The Lord Which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, ‘Yet will I gather others“. Is this gathering of Israel after the 70 year captivity or is it the gathering for the millennial reign of Christ? In order to answer that question we must determine who are the “others” referred to in this passage. Given that it speaks of the gathering of Israel and “others”, I believe we must conclude that the “others” are Gentiles. There is nothing in the Word of God that tells us that Gentiles were gathered for the return to Jerusalem after the 70 year captivity. So because this passage speaks of the gathering of Gentiles (i.e. “others”) along with Jews, we must conclude that this passage speaks of the millennial reign.
Having determined that this passage concerns the millennium it is clear from the phrase, “their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted” that there will indeed be sacrifices in the millennium.
In short, Is. 56:6-8 is a millennial prophecy. And we read in this millennial passage “their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar“. Therefore, I believe that there will be sacrifices in the millennium. His ways are not our ways.
EZEKIEL’S DESCRIPTION OF THE ORDINANCES OF THE MILLENNIAL TEMPLE
We read in Zech. 6:12, “And speak unto him, saying, ‘…….Behold the Man Whose name is The Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne…….”. Christ is the only One Who can fill the role of both Priest and King, therefore this passage refers to Christ building a temple. Because He has not yet built a temple, we must conclude that He will build His temple for His millennial reign.
There are many verses in Ezekiel chapters 43-44 that describe how animal sacrifices are to be made. But some believe that these chapters concern, not the millennial temple, but the temple described in Ezra that was built by the returning captives. So let us first determine from Scripture that these chapters do indeed concern the millennial temple.
I believe the following points will prove from Scripture that the temple, as described in Ezekiel, concern the millennial temple, and that the laws described in relation to this temple are, of course, also millennial.
Let us begin with Ezek. 43:4-5 which reads, “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house”. It is important to note that the Bible never says that the temple built by Ezra was filled with the glory of the Lord. If we do not add to the Word of God, that means that the “house” spoken of in Ezek. chapters 43-44 cannot refer to the temple of Ezra’s time, it therefore must refer to the millennial temple.
Now let us consider Ezek. 43:7 which reads, “And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever; and My holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they nor their kings, by their whoredom…..”. There are several phrases of importance in terms of whether this passage speaks of a millennial temple.
As one considers just a few examples of the phrase “soles of My feet”, it will become clear that the phrase indicates a personal presence, but it also has another very interesting connotation.
Deut. 11:24, “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be”. The phrase “the soles of your feet” obviously carries with it the idea of conquering the lands upon which their feet will “tread”. In this passage at least, the phrase “soles of your feet” refers to victory over one’s enemies.
I Kings 5:3, “Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the Lord his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet”. In this verse the idea of victory over enemies is obvious.
Is. 60:14, “The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, ‘The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel”. Here too the idea of victory over one’s enemies is obvious.
Mal. 4:3, “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in that day that I shall do this saith the Lord of hosts”. Here too, the idea of victory over enemies is obvious in the use of the phrase “the soles of their feet”.
Now let us come back to Ezek. 43:7 where we read, “the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet”. This is the Lord speaking and obviously He is referring to His personal presence. That will not be accomplished until the Lord returns for the millennial reign. Also, I believe that because the phrase “the soles of (My) feet” is often used of a victory over enemies, we may conclude that it does indeed indicate, not only the personal presence of Christ, but also a presence that comes from having accomplished victory over His enemies. No enemies will be conquered until the second coming of Christ, at which time He will establish His millennial reign. Therefore, this passage must refer to the millennium.
Now let us consider the phrase, “where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel“. God will not dwell in the midst of Israel until the millennium. That being the case, this phrase also tells us that the context is millennial.
What about the phrase,” the house of Israel shall no more defile”? Obviously this has not been fulfilled, but because the Lord’s prophecy will not be thwarted, it will be fulfilled in the millennium.
In short, there are four phrases in Ezek. 43:7 that tell us that this verse, at least, comes in the context of the millennial temple. Those phrases again are, “the place of My throne”, “the place of the soles of My feet”, “where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel” and “My holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile”.
We read in Ezek. 43:1-3, “Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east……And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision which I saw, when I came to destroy the city; and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar…”. In Ezek. 43:1-3 we learn that Ezekiel had a vision like that of the vision he had had by the river Chebar. As we consider that vision, I believe that it will be clear that it centers on Christ and on His the millennial throne. That being the case, Ezekiel’s vision concerns the millennium.
We read Ezek. 1:1, “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God”. These visions are described in the entire chapter. Let us consider verses 26-28, “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. and I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about it……This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of One That spake”. Surely this description must refer to Christ, Himself because only Christ’s appearance could be of “the likeness of the glory of the Lord”.
It is clear the vision which Ezekiel had by the Chebar river, which he then referred to in Ezek. 43:1-3, had to do with Christ on His millennial throne. This fact is perfectly consistent with the suggestion that chapters 43-44 of Ezekiel are millennial prophecies.
To continue: The ordinances of Ezra’s temple would be those of the Mosaic Law. Therefore, if chapters 43-44 of Ezekiel concern Ezra’s temple they would be the same as given in the Mosaic Law. Conversely, if the ordinances given in Ezekiel are different than those of the Mosaic Law, the ordinances of Ezekiel cannot refer to Ezra’s temple and therefore must refer to the millennial temple.
We read in Ezek. 43:18, “And he said unto me, ‘Son of man, thus saith the Lord God; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon”. Dr. E. W. Bullinger has written a very helpful note on this verse in the Companion Bible, pg. 1169 comparing the ordinances of the Mosaic Law with the ordinances of the Lord’s temple as described by Ezekiel. That note reads, “Compared with the Mosaic tabernacle, the ritual began with the consecration of the priests (Lev. 8:1-10); here, they are already consecrated (vv. 19-26). In Lev. 8:11, the altar was anointed with the holy oil; here no anointing, and the priests are only from Zadok’s line (cp. 40:46; 44:15-16). In Ex. 29:36, a bullock offered on seven successive days; here only once, and on the other days a kid of the goats. The offerings here (vv. 18-27) are national and Priestly (the Priest representing the nation) not individual, for there will be no day of atonement. The sacrifices will not therefore be as when under the law”.
In short, there are differences between the sacrificial laws of Moses and the sacrificial laws as described in Ezekiel. That being the case, the laws as described in Ezekiel cannot refer to the sacrifices of Ezra’s temple which would have been in compliance with the Mosaic Law. Therefore, they must refer to the sacrificial laws of the millennium.
Let us also consider Ezek. 44:2-3 which reads, “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince; the prince, He shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same”. This passage speaks of “the Lord God of Israel” and “the prince”. Surely this passage concerns Christ. That being the case, this passage cannot refer to Ezra’s temple, but rather must refer to the millennial temple. Again, this is perfectly consistent with the fact that chapters 43-44 are millennial prophecies.
ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM
I believe the paragraphs above prove that Ezekiel’s vision recorded in chapters 43-44 refer to the millennial temple. With that in mind we are prepared to consider the verses in those chapters that speak of animal sacrifices.
In Ezek. 43:18 we read, “And he said unto me, ‘son of man, thus saith the Lord God; ‘These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when the shall make it, to offer burnt offering thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon”.
43:20, “and thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four corners of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round it….”.
Verse 21, “Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering, and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary”
Verse 24, “And thou shalt offer them before the Lord, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering unto the Lord”.
Verse 25, “Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering….”
Verse 27, “And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar…..”.
CHRIST, A PRIEST “AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEC”
It has been suggested that animal sacrifices were made under the Levitical priesthood but Christ will be a Priest “after the order of Melchizedec”. As shown above with the quote of Dr. Bullinger’s remarks on Ezek. 43:18, there are some elements of the millennial priesthood that are indeed different, but that does not mean that there may not be similarities. That is to say, the priesthood after the order of Melchizedec is in some ways different than the Levitical priesthood, but there are similarities, including the fact that both include animal sacrifices.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org